Will there be a “GREEN-ER” Future for First Nations with the Green Party?

The Green Party has become a going concern in BC and has attracted many quality candidates like Andrew Weaver and has a reputable First Nations Candidate Adam Olsen in the Saanich North and the Islands riding. The section “Valuing First Nations as Partners, is the last item in the platform which indicates lack of priority, though First Nations are mentioned throughout the platform which indicates that First Nations are important enough to mention in all key areas of the platform. As with the NDP, some good principles, it would be in the implementation of their policies and keeping these promises to First Nations people that would be key. Judging these two parties against the known Liberal actions is what every First Nation voter needs to weigh up. Credibility, confidence and action on commitments.

With respect to my seven issues for the election, the Green Party will cancel plans for Site C, Northern Gateway and the Kinder Morgan expansion, put a moratorium on new gas exploration and ban crude oil tankers on the coast of BC. They will put responsibility for any environmental damage on the companies (this is already the case) They will support wild salmon stocks and their habitat, let fish farm licenses expire with no renewal and revoke long term fish farm tenures, stop old growth logging, change the mineral tenure laws so the duty to consult with First Nations is assured, establish no go mining zones for First Nations land claims, water sensitivities, and protected areas. No mention of Raven Coal, Jumbo or Prosperity mine that I could find. They do mention that First Nations consent would be required before a Mines Act permit would be issued which would address Raven Coal, Prosperity and other mines out there. There is also no mention of First Nations Heritage protection issues or a new Water Act.

They recognize that BC and Canada are in a state of denial of aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights and that the treaty process has taken too long, costs too much and is not addressing First Nations’ needs. They are committing to strengthen environmental assessments and standards and use a watershed and ecosystem based system to evaluate projects. More holistic approach in the environment and how they are administered within government.

The Green party RECOGNIZES and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights. They will implement treaty rights agreements (including historic) and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples (RCAP 1996) recommendations. You don’t see too many political parties talking about RCAP, more like they want to forget the multi-million dollar report. They also promise to define aboriginal title and rights in partnership with First Nations. Also something you don’t see too often in party platforms. They will work in good faith with the Federal government to complete treaties. The Greens would be limited in any of these promises with respect to the jurisdiction of the province.

The Green Party will also implement the spirit of the “Kelowna Accord” and the New Relationship. The First Nations of BC, the Province of BC and the Federal government entered into the “Transformative Change Accord” to run parallel to the Kelowna Accord and this would be the document to implement, but points for the Green party for looking at the Kelowna Accord and remembering the New Relationship as every agreement entered into with First Nations mentions that commitment.

The Green Party wants to improve the quality of life of First Nations peoples through improved housing, better education, more employment opportunities and increased access to health programs including traditional medicines. There would be some jurisdictional issues with on reserve housing and education, but certainly these are necessary items in First Nations communities. Access to traditional medicines is very important but also ensure development does not impair ecosystems that these plants thrive in is also key. They also commit to enhance the First Nations component in the education system curriculum that would be important to student success.

The Green party also commits to work with First Nations as partners to ensure consultation and accommodation and co-management. The New Relationship talks of shared decision-making, and if shared decision-making is implemented, the role of consultation and accommodation lessens. They also commit to equitable sharing of natural resources on traditional territories. Again, something I have not seen in any other party platform. Two of my 7 items for this election: The New Relationship, shared decision-making, and though they do not mention reconciliation, much of what they commit to is aimed at reconciliation. They will also open up the Columbia treaty and ensure that First Nations are involved in the re-negotiations..

The Green Party is committed to working with First Nations to find long-term economic development opportunities that includes jobs and revenues. They commit to helping build capacity to carry out economic development. They support Independent power producers and want to institute a Small Power Producer loans that are interest free as long as it is “green” energy. They will ensure that power producers will be both public and private. (another one of my 7 election issues-BC Hydro back off on the standing offer program).

They say “where necessary” they will revoke water licenses and properly compensate the license holders of river based energy generation. Again, as with the NDP, why would they do that? What does “where necessary” mean and what is the criteria. This could impact many First Nations and is contrary to what they say they want to do-support First Nations in long term economic development projects. A bit scary to companies who built projects in good faith and have long term contracts with BC Hydro and would be paying penalties to BC Hydro for the cancellation of providing power to them.

What I do like about the commitments in the Green Party Platform is the one about training educators to include materials and methodologies that better inform people on the history of First Nations peoples in BC and Canada, the continuing impacts of colonization on First Nations peoples, and the necessity of recognizing aboriginal and treaty rights. This is so basic to many issues facing First Nations people that I think education on colonization and recognition must include the general public, though starting with children in school also starts to help eradicate racism. And this material can also go all the way to universities. The entire education system should embrace these types of materials.

I also want to add a quote from Adam Olsen’s blog what he envisions as part of his work that involved First Nations “I intend to work on improving urban housing conditions for aboriginal people and re-examining the treaty process. With respect to my home, I propose to create a Douglas Treaty forum that brings Chiefs and government together to discuss ways to understand and recognize the meaning and implementation of the Treaty” www.olsen4mla.ca/first_nations_from_consultation_to_meaningful_engagement As one of the few First Nations people who are running in this election I wanted to add what an individual MLA for the Green party has committed to as specifics from the Green Party platform. This blog is worth a read as it explains what Adam is trying to achieve and the bridge he builds between First Nations and non First Nations.

Reviewing and analyzing the Green Party platforms certainly gives me hope for the environment that is integral to the continuation of aboriginal and treaty rights. It also provides a respectful engagement of First Nations people, though the words government to government are not present. Many of the issues I raised in my 7 election issues are addressed with the exception of heritage conservation and water Act. The Green Party has presented a viable platform that First Nations people may want to look at closer. With voting 11 days away, critical choices must be made as to what party can best support First Nations issues and actually accomplish good things for the people in our communities. The choice is yours if you want a “Green-er” future, or more of the same old Liberals, or the NDP UNDRIP principled approach. What will it be?

Green Party Platform: d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/greenpartybc/pages/51/attachments/original/1366687662/Green_Book_2013_April_16__2013size.pdf

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